(1-4) And saw the rich men casting their gifts.—See Notes on Mark 12:41-44. This may, perhaps, be thought of as one of the incidents which St. Luke derived from verbal communication with his brother-evangelist. (See Introduction.)
Unto the offerings of God.—The better MSS. omit the last two words. “Offerings,” literally, gifts.
Goodly stones.—These were probably so called, either as being sculptured, or as being of marble, or porphyry, or other of the more precious materials used in building.
Gifts.—St. Luke uses the more strictly classical word for “offerings,” according to some of the best MSS., in the self-same form as the Anathĕma (1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Corinthians 16:12), which elsewhere in the New Testament is confined to the idea of that which is set apart, not for a blessing, but a curse. The fact that he is the only writer to use it in its good sense is characteristic of his Gentile and classical training. Other MSS., however, give the more usual term, Anathēma, as if it had been found necessary to distinguish the form of the word according to its uses.
The time draweth near.—Better, the season has come near.
Go ye not therefore . . .—The better MSS. omit the last words.
Be not terrified.—The word is used by St. Luke only, here and in Luke 24:37, in the New Testament.
By and by.—Better, as elsewhere, immediately.
Fearful sights.—The Greek word, literally things of terror, is peculiar to St. Luke. He omits here “the beginning of troubles.” or “travail-pangs,” which we find in St. Matthew and St. Mark.
Adversaries.—Another favourite word of St. Paul’s (1 Corinthians 16:9; Philippians 1:28, et al.), and used by no other writer in the New Testament except St. Luke.
Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.—The thought expressed in this clause, that the punishment of Israel, and the desolation of Jerusalem were to have a limit, that there was one day to be a restoration of both, is noticeable as agreeing with the whole line of St. Paul’s thoughts in Romans 9-11, and being in all probability the germ of which those thoughts are the development. In Romans 11:25, “till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in,” we have a distinct echo of the words, “until the times (better, the seasons) of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
Distress of nations.—The Greek for the first noun means literally, constraint, the sense of being hemmed in, as when we say “in great straits.” It is used by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:4, and not elsewhere in the New Testament. The word for “perplexity” is used by St. Luke only.
The sea and the waves roaring.—The better MSS. give a different punctuation and reading, with perplexity from the roar of the sea, and of the surge, or wave. In the common reading we have another instance of agreement with St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:1, where the word is rendered “tinkling”—better, echoing, or resounding. Assuming, as has been suggested above, that St. Luke’s report is of the nature of a paraphrase, we may, perhaps, connect this feature in it with his own experience. To one who had known the perils of waters narrated in Acts 27, no picture of the more dread phenomena of nature could be complete without “the sea and the waves roaring.”
For looking after those things.—Literally, for expectation, the noun being used only by St. Luke in the New Testament.
Redemption.—The word, familiar as it is to us, is, in the special form here used, another of those characteristic of St. Paul’s phraseology (Romans 3:24; Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:7, et al.). It occurs also in Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 11:35. In its primary meaning here it points to the complete deliverance of the disciples from Jewish persecutions in Palestine that followed on the destruction of Jerusalem. The Church of Christ was then delivered from what had been its most formidable danger.
Them that dwell . . .—Elsewhere in the New Testament, the verb is used in its literal meaning of “sitting.” In the sense of “dwelling” or “residing,” we find it, probably, again in Acts 2:2.
That ye may be accounted worthy . . .—See Note on Luke 20:35. The better MSS., however, give, “that ye may have strength to escape.”
To stand before the Son of man.—The same preposition is used with special reference to the final judgment in 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Thessalonians 3:13.
Abode.—The word is better translated lodged in Matthew 21:12. Strictly speaking, it meant to lodge, not in a room, but in the court-yard of a house; and so was used generally, in military language, for a “bivouac.” It would seem to have been chosen by both Evangelists (it does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament) to include the fact, implied in all four and definitely stated by St. John, that most of the nights were spent not in a house, but in the garden, or orchard, of Gethsemane (John 18:1-2).
That is called the mount of Olives.—Better, perhaps, here, as in Luke 19:29 (where see Note), that is called Olivet.